Ever wonder if the giveaway you saw on a friends Facebook page is real? Here's the inside scoop and some tips on how to make sure your entry gets counted and some insight on how to tell if a giveaway is real or fake.
Yesterday, I had a sit down with one of the owners of the company that was co-sponsoring one of our hosted giveaways. We were discussing the possibility of future giveaways, (Yipee). During the meeting he selected the winners of the Country Fan Fest giveaway. It was exciting to watch him choose the winner with a random number generator and confirmed that their entry was valid. I kind of wish I had thought to make a short vid.
Anyway, we started a discussion about all the weird blog giveaways I stumble on and the subject came up of the “crazy giveaway” tactics some websites are using and how it leads me to wonder if they are real or fake; how they are tracked and if the prizes are ever awarded.
And hey, I've run my share of giveaways on Coupons4Utah, if I'm wondering if a giveaway is real, I'm guessing you are too. So, next time you see a great giveaway, before you hit enter, here's some inside secrets you might like to know.
MAKE SURE YOU ARE ENTERING CORRECTLY
1 – Facebook Giveaways: A Facebook share can not be tracked (nor does Facebook allow it) and good quality bloggers know it. If you are asked to SHARE a post, you should report the page to Facebook, the giveaway is probably FAKE. Even if there is a prize, there is no way to track your entry with reliability. NOTE: Asking for Likes and/or Comments for entry is allowed, just not shares or tags. In other words, a giveaway host can not require you to “spam” your friends on Facebook.
2 – Instagram Giveaways: A Re-gram can not be tracked unless you tag the giveaway host or use a specific #hashtag that the host has said they will track. If you are Re-gramming for entry, make sure you tag the company hosting the giveaway. I'd also recommend you tag the sponsor if you can, they love that.
3 – Pinterest Giveaways: A Pin can not be tracked if you don't re-pin it from the giveaway hosts Pinterest page. If you are entering a Pin-it giveaway, make sure you are re-pinning from the giveaway hosts' Pinterest page and not just pinning the page that is on the hosts website.
4 – Twitter Giveaways: A Tweet can not be tracked unless it's a re-tweet from the giveaway hosts' Twitter page. If you are entering a Twitter giveaway make sure you are re-Tweeting. A giveaway host that says “Tweet this post on my website” and doesn't direct you to the Tweet they want you to re-Tweet is not tracking your entry.
Send an Email to a friend to enter? Say What??
5- Email Entry: A reader recently told me she came across a blog allowing a giveaway entry for anyone that would email a friend telling them about the giveaway hosted on their site. Um.. okay, how is that tracked please? It's official, Now I have seen everything regarding spammy giveaways.
Perhaps one day I'll share the screen shot, but for now, I don't have permission. Just to be clear, a giveaway host CAN NOT track an email you send to a friend, therefore your entry will not be officially verified. In this particular giveaway there are other trackable ways to enter but, it leaves me wondering, if any entries for such a giveaway are confirmed? Which would lead you to wonder if there is actually a prize and that casts shadow on the integrity and motives of the website itself.
A giveaway host that asks you to email a friend in order to gain a giveaway entry is WITHOUT DOUBT – FAKE… Unless… maybe the host is a skilled email hacker OR every entrant gave the blog access to their email password.
Basically, you can say you sent an email to every Tom, Dick and Harry in your contacts and that can not be confirmed. So, if there is a prize, which I doubt, the winner may or may not have completed the requirement for entry. Hum, I have 4,500 email contacts maybe I'll just pretend I spammed them all and head on over and enter this giveaway 4,500 times. Just sayin'.
All kidding aside, If you think a giveaway is fake, consider reporting it to the FTC. And, I would not hesitate to ask the host how they plan to track your entry. Sadly, giveaway hosts like this, give all bloggers hosting giveaways, a bad wrap and yes, that does make me a little hot under the collar, with good reason.
(photo source ExploreTheme.com)
Understanding the Group Giveaway Widget
If you read many blogs, chances are you've stumbled on that crazy little widget that gets used for group type giveaways. This is where a group of bloggers team up to share social resources. Pretty clever sharing fans and spreading the love. Right?!
Things to be aware of.
The Pro's: The widget is actually pretty slick. A lot of bloggers and businesses use it for their individual giveaways. As far as I can tell, it tracks your actions correctly, provided they are made within the widget. As long as you trust that the prize will be awarded, you have nothing to lose by entering.
The Con's: If the giveaway host asks for an action that goes outside of the widget (ie. leave a comment on a post), it would be up to the the giveaway host to confirm that the action was taken. Plus, if you're entering a group giveaway this usually means you have to sign up for a bunch of different bloggers social media pages. If that doesn't bug you, you're good to go.
Do the Math
The Trick: I'm going to take a lot of heat from co-bloggers on this one but, I'm a fair disclosure kind of girl so, here we go. Stick with me. Lets say there are 10 Bloggers participating and each one wants you to follow a Social Media page and for each blog you follow they give, you, the entrant, 5 entries, that's a total of 50 entries for you.
That's 50 entries showing on the widget for every ONE person that enters.
Which means, in this particular example, a widget showing 5,000 entries has only 100 individual people entered (provided every entrant entered all 10 times). So, each of the 10 blogs provided the sponsor with about 10 entries. Was it worth it? Only the sponsor can determine that. But, suddenly your chances of winning are looking a whole lot better for you!!!…
Provided, there is actually a prize.
And, remember, that each of those 10 bloggers just gained 100 new followers. Geese, why am I'm suddenly reminded of the pyramid schemes from the 80's?
The Question: Who is awarding the prize? If the prize is not being awarded by the blog or company themselves, but rather by a third party (usually the case with “group giveaways”) I'd be wary of these. You might consider finding out who the 3rd party is, how they notify and what their company reputation is and what will be done with the info you provide.
Why inflate the number?
Perhaps the blog is small and they want it to look like they got more entries. Hey, I get that. During my first year of blogging the average entries for a contest on Coupons4Utah was around 15-20. And, sometimes that's still what we get.
Some bloggers may find a low entry giveaway embarrassing or want to look like they have a large following. It's understandable that a blogger wants to appear they have a larger audience than they do. That doesn't mean their giveaway isn't real, it probably is real.
I would urge smaller blogs to adopt a different attitude. I found it was fun seeing our readers have such good odds and getting to know them and they each other. I've become great friends with one of our early readers (she's not allowed to enter giveaways anymore).
A little secret bloggers, you are MUCH more likely to build a larger audience if your readers know your giveaways are real.
If you can't put your hands on the prize; See it, feel it, smell it and mail it, DON'T ENDORSE IT.
OH NO! ZERO ENTRIES!
(UPDATE: This giveaway has ended) Not too long ago, we hosted a giveaway on on Google+ that had just one entry. And, just last week, NO ONE entered our weekly Instagram giveaway. (With numbers like that, it's going to be tough for me to get a sponsor for an Instagram giveaway anytime soon). Just sayin, your odds of winning this weeks MegaPlex gift card giveaway are pretty dang good right now.
Here's how you enter>>
A Love Note For Sponsors
Why I don't like the widget and rarely participate in group giveaways?
I know we have a lot of businesses that follow the website, I've talked to many of you. So, just for you, here's what the widget can and can't do for you. The inflated number is being used by some, shall we say, less ethical bloggers/companies to persuade retailers, to provide big prize packages along with payment for a group giveaway. In exchange the blogger or company will promise them fabulous blog reach that's better than their morning coffee (or, Dirty Diet Coke). When the campaign ends, they report back with the inflated entry number from the widget. Pretty slick widget, wouldn't you say sponsors? If you buy that I have some Ocean Front Property in Arizona.
Merchants/Sponsors, please make sure you understand the widget and the expectations you've set for your promotion. You may be running a group blog giveaway with blogs that have nothing to do with your company. A blog may look like they have a ton of social reach when in reality their page is dead. Be wary of the group giveaway widget and understand what the organizer is offering. Not all of them are bad but, you should ask for Google stats and be familiar with the blogs that are giving away your product.
Sponsors, if you have questions or are interested in running a giveaway on Coupons4Utah individually or in a network, you can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org
And, that's all I have to say about that.
WHAT ARE THE RULES?
Form Entry: Okay, I'm getting long winded here, but I do want to share a few last thoughts. If the giveaway requires a form for entry, that is the EASIEST way for a giveaway host to track the entries. Provided you trust that there is a prize, your entry will probably be recorded. Just make sure to read the giveaway rules. That way, you know what the host is going to do with your info.
Speaking of rules, does the giveaway host have official rules? They should.
Comment Entry: Giveaways by comment are also an awesome way to require entry! The entrant can easily see what their chances are and it's super easy for the blogger to track. You usually don't see many of these but, they are my personal favorite We have hosted many of them on Facebook as well as on the website.
Hopefully this post has helped you in making sure your giveaway entry gets counted. Here's to hoping you win the next time you enter a fab and rad giveaway.
Update: This giveaway has ended. Congrats to the winner HaleyJaye. This was a long read and if you made it this far, my guess is your chances will be pretty good for this one.. I have some Salt Lake City fun to giveaway. One lucky reader is going to win a family 4 pack of VIP passes for the Natural History Museum of Utah and (2) buy 1, get 1 free admission passes for Tracy Aviary.
To enter for your chance to win, simply leave a comment in the comment section of this post .
Good Luck! Now I'm off to have a box of chocolates.
Giveaway will end on Monday 4/6/2015 at midnight. Winner will be contacted by email and have 48 hours to claim prize. Contest subject to the general contest rules.